Long term travel plan needed as coronavirus 'to continue for years'

Long term travel plan needed as coronavirus 'to continue for years'
File image. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Infectious diseases consultant Dr Jack Lambert has said it was wise for the Government to publish a green list of countries to which travel was acceptable, but that there needed to be a long term plan because Covid-19 “is going to continue for years.” 

Dr Lambert told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show that the current plans send mixed messages and that Ireland was part of the EU and shared a land border with the UK and people were coming into Ireland, “whether we like it or not.” 

Ireland was not an island in the same sense that New Zealand was and it could not be used as a comparison. 

“We need to come up with a list of red and green travel zones. We need to come up with solutions from a safety stand point, a psychological stand point and an economic stand point.” 

The goal was not elimination of the coronavirus, it was to manage it, he said. 

“This might be a three year thing.” 

Dr Lambert called for a plan containing sharp, precise details with a clear message. There were many reasons why people might need to travel and people needed to be educated on the dangers of Covid-19 at all levels, including house parties. 

He said he personally had chosen not to travel abroad this year. 

“We all need to be part of a solution that makes sense and prevents further spread of the virus.” 

The Government cannot mandate or legislate good behaviour which was why educating people on the dangers of missed cases was important, he said.

On the same programme Dublin GP Maitiu Ó Tuathail, described the current situation as “hugely confusing.” 

The mixed message was completely wrong. Essential travel should be clearly defined and a mandatory two-week quarantine should be imposed.

Dr Ó Tuathail said that GPs were seeing a slow but steady increase in patients with Covid-19 symptoms associated with overseas travel.

The green list was due to be published today but has since been delayed. 

Cabinet was set to discuss the list on Monday and then the July stimulus package on Tuesday. However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin was kept at an EU leaders summit overnight, pushing back the government's timetable this week.

Cabinet could agree a list of under 20 countries that have low rates of Covid-19 but the government is still insisting non-essential travel should be avoided.

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